Business Insider defines “shockvertising” as “ads made to shock their way into your memory by way of gruesome violence, over-the-top-sexuality, or other taboo-shredding imagery.” Many countries around the world have been using “shockvertising” to gain attention towards social issues. Social justice is not the hottest trending topic, but its messages succeed in reaching audiences through this method. The high emotional impact from “shockvertising” pulls the heartstrings, therefore leaving them to reflect on the message.
This is a successful, because audiences feel intimately connected to a message. The “shockvertisement” portrays issues that happen in the world everyday. It challenges us to take action. On the other hand, “shockvertising” can be too intense. The content can be overly exaggerated to a point where audiences may turn away before reading the tagline or caption. After looking at an image, it may be too late before someone sees the cause it is advocating for.
Let’s analyze a few.
Crisis Relief Singapore released this photo “Liking isn’t helping.” in 2013. In today’s society, we discover and share current events through social media. You’ll have a friend share a link to a story, and it is too easy to hit the “Like” button. A person can share the news, but how many of us actually go beyond that? How many of us actually decide to help and take action? Accompanied by the small child, this message is even more affective. Most people do have a soft spot for children and babies. The sight of the young one pulls people’s attention, and I admit that it is hard to look at for a long time without wanting to turn away. It is not sugarcoated. This is real. This is a successful “shockvertisement” compared to others.
This next one I immediately turned away, but I forced myself to fully take it in and analyze it. A decapitated Santa is a very horrifying image –not only because he holds such positive spirits for Christmas—because it’s literally a head, with blood on the beard, unattached to its body. It’s gross. It’s gruesome. It’s something we don’t expect to see on a daily basis. An Italian advertising agency (from what I could research) launched this campaign to persuade people to investing money into advertising. “Don’t Cut A Dream” first appeared in 2009. In this “shockvertisement,” Santa symbolizes a dream – something people look forward to. This I consider to be really ineffective. It does succeed in shocking the audience, but it is too harsh. In addition, their message is poorly designed and placed. It’s hard to connect dreams to a decapitated Santa. It does not communicate their goal.